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Memento Mori ring

England

16th century

Gold ring, the flat six-pointed bezel with an enamelled skull, the hoop chased and ending in scrolls which are enamelled in colours.

17.12 mm internal ring diameter; 6.03 g weight

Bought in London

Presented by Dr C.D.E. Fortnum in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, 1897; WA1897.CDEF.F642

Mortality rates were high in the sixteenth and seventeenth century due to war, plague and famine and Memento Mori rings such as this example were intended to remind the wearer of their mortal state.

Scarisbrick and Henig, Finger Rings, 2003, pl. 20.1